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An oscillating fan is a fan that rotates rather than blowing in one direction, using forced convection to cool a space. This type of fan is stationary (on a stand or base), while the fan housing rotates from side to side. Oscillating fans come in a variety of sizes with a number of settings (side to side, stationary, angles, or up and down). They come as pedestal models or clip-on wall-mounts. Some are built as combination units with both heating and cooling settings. They’re a great way to cool a room in conjunction with A/C or alone.

Oscillating fans can sometimes malfunction. It is important to know how to tell if a fan needs maintenance, or if it just needs to be replaced. If a fan is not oscillating properly, here are some steps to making it work (always check the manufacturer’s instructions first):

  • Unplug the fan for safety.
  • Check the fan gears—they may be loose. Loose or worn gears can keep a fan from oscillating.
  • Remove the fan grill, nuts, pins, and/or clamps.
  • Remove the fan blade from the motor.
  • Check the motor and blades. Do they need to be cleaned? Use a vacuum or soft cloth to remove dirt and lint.
  • Reassemble the fan and check the screws and gear assembly. Loose screws and gears can keep your fan from working properly.
  • After reassembling the fan, use household lubricant oil on the shaft.

After reassembly, if the fan continues to malfunction, you may need to replace the gears and motor housing. If there’s a burning smell or faulty wiring, do not use the fan. Instead, check the warranty and get a replacement fan.

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